Last week Americans honored the late Ronald Reagan on the occasion of his 100th birthday. There was one man who certainly made a difference.
Reagan’s cumulative pressing of his core belief in freedom and free markets was more important than any single accomplishment — or mistake. His dogged commitment to the principles of freedom changed the course of history, even as Reagan, the politician, didn’t always live up to his lofty beliefs. As president, he ran up (then) record budget deficits and he flip-flopped on draft registration, for example.
Still, as much as President Reagan could fall short, his legacy grows sweeter over time, in part because of a second major idea. He believed that the common sense of the people was far more capable and worthy of trust in making the important decisions we face than are politicians left to their own devices.
That’s why Mr. Reagan took time from his 1980 campaign to send a letter to New Jersey activist Sam Perelli, who was lobbying his state’s legislators to establish a process where citizens could put issues on the ballot. “George Bush and I congratulate you on your efforts to attain, for the people of New Jersey, the right to initiative and referendum,” Reagan wrote. “We urge you to keep up your fight and we endorse your efforts.”
Mr. Reagan is remembered for his faith in freedom and in our democratic ability to defend that freedom.
This is Common Sense. I’m Paul Jacob.